Governance and Democracy katarsis survey Paper

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Even I only thought of my own street when I first took part in participatory 

budgeting. But then I met other people and communities and learned of much 

greater problems. What I thought of as a huge problem was nothing 

compared with the situations of some of the others. The question of having 

no place to live, sleeping under a piece of cloth, or open sewage close to 

where the children run and play. I forgot about my street, so that even today 

it still hasn’t been paved. (Solidariedade 2003: 105). 

This points at the significant transformation of an individualistic Weltanschauung into one 

based on solidarity – from ‘I’ to ‘we’, as Baiocchi put it (Baiocchi 2003). This clearly 

indicates the emergence of the positive educative aspects linked to citizen’s governance. The 

number of local initiatives in Porto Alegre, in contrast to other capital cities in Brazil, 

increased in the 1990s. This can be attributed to the particularly high motivation of the people 

to mobilise because they were aware that this would allow them to directly improve their 

living conditions.  

Problems arose in connection with long term strategic planning which was difficult to 

integrate into the participatory process, where the budgetary cycle restricted the horizon for 

participatory planning to one year. Environmental problems were also hardly ever tackled, 

which was illustrated by the high spending priority on paving roads, which results in cleaner 

and more accessible environments but also enables cars to pass through more quickly, while 

children lose these spaces for playing. The problematic approach to ecology is even more 

striking in terms of sewage management – the expansion of the sewage network was 

undertaken without considering waste water treatment


Nevertheless, Porto Alegre is one of the 

most important examples for socially innovative practices and has thus been the main model 

for new concepts such as “participatory publics” (Avritzer 2002), “empowered participatory 

governance” (Fung/Wright 2003) and a public state (Novy/Leubolt 2005). Especially 

concerning lobbying, Porto Alegre is an interesting model, as lobbying for resources continued 

to exist, but was managed in an open and democratic way, thereby bypassing the above 

mentioned problems – this was especially visible, as groups which tend to be excluded from 

decision making – women, ethnic minorities and poor people were very strongly represented 

in the PB process. But as socially inclusive practices have to include bottom–up processes, the 

model of Porto Alegre cannot simply be copied to other places. Even though not copied, the 

PB has – apart from being adopted to various cities throughout the world – been up-scaled to 

the regional level of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul (cfl. Schneider/Goldfrank 2002; 

Leubolt 2006). This experience showed the potentials of up-scaling, as the scope of action was 

considerably bigger. The increased number of involved actors also led to increased conflicts 

with established actors. For Porto Alegre’s citizens this also created problems concerning time 

to attend both participatory processes. Nevertheless, the idea of up-scaling still seems to be a 











promising strategy, as dangers of localism can be avoided. Problems with economic policies 

on the national scale limited the possibilities for social inclusion on both the local and the 

regional scales – especially concerning employment opportunities, which largely depended on 

national policies and international influences and thus could only marginally be tackled in the 

described cases. 

3.3. Tower 


Nurturing Alternative Space



Tower Colliery is the last deep mine in the UK South Wales coalfield. It is situated in one of 

the most economically disadvantaged areas in Great Britain. In 1994, under the Conservative 

government’s energy re-structuring policy, the mine was closed. However, despite a vote by 

the miners to accept redundancy, a campaign was started by Tower members of the National 

Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which organised an employee buyout to establish a workers 

cooperative. A group elected by the workforce, the Tower Employment Buyout Team 

(TEBO), assembled a business plan, a technical plan, bank loans, support from the local 

authority and the Wales Co-operative Centre, donations and, finally, a pledge of almost £2 

million composed of the £8,000 redundancy money from each of 239 miners. The Department 

of Trade and Industry (DTI) accepted the TEBO’s bid of £10m in November, 1994 and Tower 

reopened on 2nd January, 1995 as a worker-owned co-operative business enterprise. The 

stated objective was to create jobs and, at the time of writing, it has prospered as an alternative 

business enterprise for over 10 years. 

Legal ownership of these physical assets is vested in the employee-owners who enjoy all the 

conventional rights of company shareholders. In common with the initial personal financial 

investment made by the original members, any new member has to invest £8k in a share when 

starting “employment” at Tower. Low interest bank loans are available for new starters to 

purchase the share. (In addition, whenever possible, arrangements are made to ensure new 

members are given overtime to help them pay off these loans.)  

The co-operative is a private limited company which is structured to ensure members enjoy 

direct control over company policy on the basis of ‘one-share-one-vote’. Although the value of 

individual shares varies depending on when the member joined the co-operative, no member 

has more than 1 vote. 



  This chapter was written by: Len Arthur (UWIC, Cardiff), Tom Keenoy (University of Leicester), Molly Scott Cato (UWIC, Cardiff) 

Russell Smith (UWIC, Cardiff). 

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